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Morphotek Secures Samples from Fox Chase to Develop Companion Tests for Oncology Drugs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Morphotek said today that it has entered into two agreements with Fox Chase Cancer Center to acquire clinical samples that it will use to develop companion diagnostic assays for use with drugs currently under development at Morphotek.

Morphotek, a subsidiary of Eisai, said it will fund prospective and archival sample collection programs at Fox Chase to obtain samples from patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer or are being treated for a variety of tumor types.

The company said it will use the samples to develop companion tests that will either identify patients likely to respond to treatment with Morphotek's therapeutic antibodies or will be useful in monitoring response to these drugs.

In particular, Morphotek said that it will use the samples to develop companion diagnostic assays for folate receptor alpha, or FRA, the target of its lead therapeutic candidate, farletuzumab. The company is currently testing the drug in several clinical trials against different types of cancers, including non-small cell lung adenocarcinoma and ovarian carcinoma.

Citing studies that have found FRA expression levels to be variable between different cancer types, the company said that "a diagnostic assay that can identify patients with FRA-positive cancers may enable better diagnosis and treatment of patients affected with FRA-expressing cancers."

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